Aug 14, 2023

6 Best Countertop Ice Makers of 2023

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Never run out of ice again.

It can be easy to take ice for granted. Many refrigerators offer a supply of crescent-shaped cubes with the push of a button, but built-in ice makers are prone to problems and running out of ice can be a major inconvenience, especially during the summer.

Instead of relying on your freezer to keep all your drinks cool, a countertop ice maker will ensure your household has plenty of fresh cubes for making cocktails, mocktails, iced coffee, and more. A compact ice maker is also a handy appliance for camping, RV trips, tailgating, or anywhere where you might end up during the hot summer weather.

We’ve found the best ice makers for homes of all sizes to help keep you and your beverages as cool as possible.

Ice might not seem like a complicated matter, but there are quite a few considerations you’ll want to keep in mind as you shop for a countertop ice maker.

There are a surprising number of ice cube styles out there today. Some of the most popular shapes for countertop ice makers are bullet, square, and nugget ice cubes.

Bullet cubes are the most common, and they can often be made in multiple sizes. Square cubes are often produced in large batches, but they come out of the ice maker in sheets, forcing you to break them up by hand. Finally, nugget ice cubes are soft and chewable—they’re the cube of choice at restaurants like Sonic and Chick-fil-A—but they melt quickly and tend to be more expensive due to their popularity.

Before you invest in a countertop ice maker, consider how much space you can dedicate to the new appliance. If you plan to use your ice maker regularly, you’ll need room on your counter to accommodate it. If your kitchen is small, look for a more compact machine that measures less than 13 or 14 inches on the longest side. If you have more counter real estate available, go with a larger machine, which generally will produce more ice.

Most countertop ice makers designed for home use can produce 26 pounds of ice in 24 hours. This is more than enough for households of four to six, assuming there are no major ice demands (like a party). Larger households or offices may appreciate a more productive machine that churns out 30 or more pounds of ice per day.

Countertop ice makers either use water from a built-in reservoir or a connected water line, but the former option is most common. Reservoir ice makers need to be refilled with water when they run out, but the major benefit is they don’t require any plumbing connections—you just fill the tank and they’re ready to use. Just keep in mind that most machines recommend using filtered water to prevent mineral deposits from building up.

If your ice maker will be running all the time, you’ll appreciate a quiet machine that doesn’t hum or clink constantly. Look for one that produces less than 40 decibels of sound, which is about the noise level of a library.

To find this list of the best countertop ice makers, we used our expert knowledge of the kitchen appliance space to narrow down our pool. Elizabeth Briskin, who originally wrote this guide, is a chef, recipe developer, and food writer who is all too familiar with the necessity of ice in the kitchen. She uses her own ice maker multiple times per day for tasks like shocking her delicate veggies after blanching them—this keeps them from continuing to cook and getting soggy.

Camryn Rabideau, who updated this guide, has been a professional product tester for more than six years. She’s tested out a wide range of kitchen appliances, including the popular GE Profile Opal Ice Maker—a top choice for nugget ice lovers. A consistent flow of ice is a must-have in her household, as she uses it for all her drinks, as well as cooking, baking, and bribing her dogs to behave.

We researched the best-performing brands and most-loved products according to customer reviews, product descriptions, and testing. In particular, we looked for products in a range of price points, sizes, capacities, and features like multiple ice cube sizes, water dispensers, slushie makers, and portability. We also took firsthand experience with several of the machines into account when making our final selections.

If you’re looking for an appliance that balances performance and value, this high-powered ice maker from Frigidaire is our top pick, thanks to its thoughtful design, high output, and easy-to-use interface. You can choose from two sizes of bullet ice cubes—which are cylindrical with a rounded tip and hollow center—and the ice maker produces its first cubes in less than six minutes.

This unit can hold up to 1.5 pounds of ice cubes at a time, but it’s perfect for households that go through a lot of ice, as it can make up to 26 pounds per day. The flip-up lid is transparent, letting you check how much ice is in the bin. As unused ice melts, the machine recycles the water to make fresh ice, saving you from draining it constantly.

This compact ice maker is a great budget-friendly option. It efficiently produces bullet-shaped ice cubes in under 10 minutes and keeps them cold—a perk that even some premium options don’t offer.

The machine is lighter than most, which makes it great for taking on the road or camping when you know you’ll have a power hookup. The company also offers a one-year warranty, which is great at this price point.

Your guests are sure to be impressed by the NewAir Countertop Ice Maker, which has a cool modern design that’s perfect for a home bar. This high-end ice maker creates nugget-style ice, which is perfect for cocktails and soda, and it can make up to 44 pounds of ice per day—significantly more than many other machines.

In addition to its fast ice production, this ice maker also stands out thanks to its sleek form. Its all-black exterior is accentuated by the LED-lit ice cube compartment, and it even has a handy draining tube in the back that makes it easier to empty.

This oversized Frigidaire ice maker is our pick for busy offices or households that use a lot of ice each day. It makes sheets of clear, square ice cubes—you may have to break them up into individual cubes—and its storage bin can hold up to 2.4 pounds of ice at a time.

Over the course of the day, this unit can make up to 40 pounds of ice, which is almost twice as much as many other machines. Plus, it comes with an ice shovel and bucket—handy in communal spaces, as people won’t need to use their hands to remove the cubes. However, keep in mind that it’s not the fastest ice machine out there, taking up to 15 minutes to churn out its first cubes.

Nugget ice—also called Sonic or pellet ice—is a favorite for many thanks to its soft, chewable texture, and if you’re willing to spend a little more, the GE Profile Opal 2.0 will give you an endless supply of nugget ice at home.

This high-tech ice maker can produce up to 24 pounds of ice per day, and the bin holds two pounds of ice at a time. (The downside is that it takes up to 20 minutes for those first nuggets to appear, but we think it’s worth the wait.)

The side-mounted water reservoir can hold up to three gallons of water, meaning you won’t have to refill it as often, and you can even control this device from your smartphone, ensuring there’s always nugget ice ready when you need it.

You can bring this ice maker from Euhomy practically anywhere thanks to its lightweight form and convenient carrying handle. While many ice makers weigh over 20 pounds, this one is just 13 pounds and it can make up to 25.5 pounds of bullet-shaped ice per day, with the first cubes ready in as little as six minutes.

The unit is easy to operate and comes with an ice scoop for easy service, and the interior is even heat-insulated, helping to slow down melting if you bring the appliance outdoors. It’s a great option for backyard barbecues, office parties, or even just everyday use, and it’s very affordable.

PM: Can you use tap water in a countertop ice maker?

EB: Yes, whether you hook your ice maker up to a water line or use a refillable tank, you can keep it supplied with tap water. However, if you find that your tap water has an unpleasant flavor, you may prefer to use filtered water.

PM: Can I leave my countertop ice maker on all the time?

EB: Yes, it’s perfectly safe to leave most ice makers on during the day and night. Of course, if you’re not using the ice, you will be using electricity to keep it running.

PM: Do ice makers need a water line?

EB: Some countertop ice makers require a water hookup. This means you’ll need to place the machine near some plumbing in your kitchen. If this isn’t an option for your home, however, many of the machines we love use a refillable water reservoir instead of, or in addition to, a water line.

Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer and product reviewer specializing in home, kitchen, and pet products. In her four years as a product tester, she's tested hundreds of items firsthand, and her work appears in publications such as Forbes, USA Today, The Spruce, Food52, and more.

Lizzy Briskin, a food writer and product reviewer who runs Earthen Food Co, is a trained chef and avid home cook who loves to put new gadgets to the test to help people make informed buying decisions; she contributes food, cooking, and lifestyle content to publications including the Chicago Tribune, Simply Recipes, Munchery, Insider, and others. She also tests and develops recipes for national food brands. When she’s not cooking, eating, or writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and training for marathons.

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